There was a time, at the turn of last century, when all the medical documents were prepared, updated and managed manually, i.e. during paper economy and society. Whiteboards and clipboards were made use of, which need to be accessed from every quarter of hospital or healthcare facility.
NO doubt, the task was hugely tedious and absorbed a lot of time, as one would need to cross over to the wards searching for info for notemaking and would need to prepare bed occupancy. Additionally, such also hampered easy diagnosis and quick procedural decision making too, as data was not available at hand, while data sharing was a remote possibility too with care givers and other departments. With digital dawn set to facilitate human efforts electronically, this area also attracted the attention of insightful engineers and efforts were started to be put in the direction.
Preliminary breakthrough was achieved with unrolling of electronic observations, which was full of benefits, as patients’ data could be controlled in realtime, alerts were sounded instantly when condition worsened, info could be checked and verified momentarily from other departments in the hospital such as from the doctor’s room and doctors got wings to refine and proliferate their practice with more efficiency alongside the improvement in popular health.
As per Ms. Sue Clark, “In the acute trust I worked in, most people welcomed the change but for some less digitally-literate colleagues, there was resistance, fear even….”
As the human tendency has been, sea change in any framework is largely opposed and getting wider acceptance quickly is always tough, as the workforce was not so much IT literate and was more skilled in paper work done manually for years. Especially to mid-wife or nursing staff who were already burdened with workload, learning new technology and getting used to an electronic system in regular affair, was a hard nut to crack.
However, in case of patients and care-givers, on realizing the potential and purposefulness of cutting-edge technology, hailed the digital stride and responded with the phrase, “Welcome to the 21st century” during feedbacks.
To unravel the misconceptions grounded deeply in minds, it calls for a proper approach whereby benefits and user approaches need to be conveyed in a simplified way. That is, what Sue Clark opines, about the minds and hearts, leave technology aside, as professionalism, in whatever field, is displayed through dedication.
At that time, a unique skill requirement also surfaced that was of clinical informatician who would enable digital understanding among the workforce and would ignite interest in them, once latter realize the worth and necessity of tech innovation that shaped healthcare field. Besides, stress was also laid upon why we should abandon age old manual practices in favour of digital mode for an overall IT soaked civilization.
Health Education England has been entrusted with the pivotal task of creating an “uplift of digital skills, knowledge, understanding and awareness” (Digital Readiness | Health Education England. Even, Ms. Sue Clark regards it to be the most significant step taken.
Global Digital Exemplar Programme Leaves Global Imprint:
That was in January 2018, that Ms. Sue Clark got a breakthrough with NHS and was appointed Clinical Lead at Global Digital Exemplar Programme (GDE), with many years of glorious experience of implementing digital solutions at local units.
In fact, GDEs are actually professional flag-bearers of NHS who harness absolute digital technologies and latest info-set to refine the healthcare on constant basis. In Ms. Sue Clark’s experience, she was thrilled to discover trusts that have evolved digitally and by the rapid development they registered over the years and the thick-rich benefits patients and staff draw out of it.
One of the most striking aspects of exemplar trusts and their aficionados is that they never fell short of divving up their learning outcome and nuances of professional practice. To accomplish this, numerous ways have been uncovered but the most noticeable being the structured repository of knowledge, compiled and updated regularly by GDE’s and their devotees. Such is the treasure unhidden reporting useful info and contact details for trusts and groups that lack advanced digital acme and occupational competence for that matter. Such info is placed on NHS Futures Platform and info in abundance that anyone may need to fast track digital transformation.
Ms. Sue Clark also made it clear about limited number of trusts who qualify to be called as digital exemplars and that going completely digital is certainly a big challenge still, as a myriad type of challenges emerge during the course of action, such as scarcity of resources, lack of funds, limited digital knowledge and skills and so forth.
There are trusts that are devoid of digital trainers and consultants, such as Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO) or Chief Nurse Information Officers (CNIO), while they can be present in some but are seldom appointed in higher positions within the facility and hence have no say in digital strategies.
“Visionary digital leaders need to drive the agenda.”
Now, to address the IT needs and required procurements, tech visionaries or digital luminaries or simply, the digital leaders need to play a proactive role while present in higher seats. This is not just limited to premium technology involvement; this is about popular habit, tech reliability, processes and operating models as well as to explore more areas to usher into tech brilliance. Clearly, digital leaders with a vision and dynamism, need to be into the driving seat to set the agenda right and to initiate actions towards the set objectives and goal rightaway.
To have a fully digitized NHS soaked with a clear-cut long term strategy, still, a great deal of work needs to be done. Now, considering the International year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020, relishing the progress made on digital professional front was really a dream come true, especially at a time of pandemic that hit globally.
Finally, needless to mention by 2020, as a matter of factly, the nursing and healthcare professionals have gone hi-tech in most of the countries with astounding resilience and steadfastness. Again, a considerable credit, (actually a lion’s share) is owed to our software engineers and developers to have transformed digital tools into user-friendly gamely collection which those with medical science background find easy to use and operate and develop capability to accomplish tasks on these with great deftness, all targeted towards popular health and quality care.
Interestingly, there is no end in sight to such innovation, as digitalization still evolve with latest coming before us in a series, at regular intervals.